In April 2014, more than 200 young girls went missing in Chibok, Nigeria. The Christian school girls, ages 16 to 18, were kidnapped during their exam week and held captive by Boko Haram, an extremist group that opposes the education of females.
Today, after years of negotiations with the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, 82 of those girls have been released.
According to CNN, the young women are currently in military custody in the northeastern town of Banki. From there, the group will reunite with their families in the capital, Abuja. There they will also a receive medical evaluation.
A statement from a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari made it clear that this was a group effort. He thanked "security agencies, the military, the Government of Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and local and international NGOs" for assisting in the rescue.
When news broke of the kidnapping in 2014, the Nigerian government initially denied the incident. And while the tragedy made a few mainstream headlines, it was only after the hashtag #BringHomeOurGirls went viral on social media, when the world took notice. Former first lady Michelle Obama and other public figures around the world posted photos and tweeted out to put pressure on then Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan to find the Chibok girls.
Since the kidnapping, a few survivors have managed to either escape, and 21 survivors were released through government negotiations last year. Captivity details about the rescued girls are still unknown. According to the Associated Press, some of the Chibok girls were killed during bombings of the Boko Haram camps by the Nigerian Air Force. Others have given birth to children by their captors. Many of these captors are also victims of kidnaping.
The exact identities of the survivors are not yet known. However, after years of unanswered questions and heartbreak, parents of the kidnapped girls are eager to hear good news. "I am very, very excited with this development. I cannot even sleep tonight," said Yana Galang to CNN. Galang’s daughter was among those taken by Boko Haram in 2014. “I hope and pray that my daughter is among these released girls," she said, hopefully.
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